Moon As Bright As Water: 17 Poems by Qin Guan

Translated by William McNaughton, former chair at Hong Kong University, and poet/translator David Young at Oberlin College. These poems showcase Qin Guan, a relatively unknown 11th century master of Chinese verse whose company could include the likes of the esteemed Li Po (Li Bai) and Du Fu. Praised by the illustrious Wang An-shih, Guan was a disciple of Su Shih (Su Dongpo) one of China’s masters of multiple literary forms, and who strove to loosen the poetic conventions of the day.

As an acolyte would, Qin Guan blew out the conventional even more by writing about his encounters with courtesans, a subject considered to be a major indiscretion by Chinese society in Keifing. He wrote in a style called t’zu, a lyrical form that McNaughton likens to “cabaret songs” or “words to music” often chosen by the courtesans to sing during their professional entertainments – songs brought from their conquered homelands and appropriated with new lyrics/verse by our poet Qin.

Guan lived a tumultuous life during the Northern Sung Dynasty (A.D. 960-1127) Political clashes led to a string of banishments and exiles, his poetry was shunned for its sensuality, and he suffered from the vicissitudes of love—all of which moved him to write these brief, incandescent poems of departure and “long goodbyes.”

A streak of his poetic melancholy and gift for imagery appears in the poem Eight Six

the pleasures of love run off

with the flowing streams…

the sound of the white silk string breaks off

and the stick of incense — kingfisher green —

burns up

This is the first time these poems have been translated by a poet in the English language with an introduction by McNaughton and an afterword by Young. The book is printed in three colors on 150gsm Hahnemühle Biblio and the type is composed in Dante. This edition is bound in a sage Asahi book cloth with cotton indigo colored Shizen paper with a hint of gold batik highlights with a velum spine title and is housed in a slipcase of warm grey cotton book cloth. Printed and bound at Deep Wood Press, edition of 80 – 10 deluxe and 5 reserved for hand binders. 34 pages, 10 1/2 x 7 3/4, numbered.

Layout and design by James Dissette and Chad Pastotnik – this is our last joint venture together under the imprint Chester River Press. Our new imprint henceforth is Mad Parrot Press  ~  You are going to like it….

William McNaughton (1933-2008) studied with Ezra Pound 1953-1956 and established the Chinese language programs at Oberlin College, Wabash College, Antioch College Denison University and Bowling Green State University. He was the founding Program Director of the University of Hong Kong’s BA Translation and Interpretation program where he worked until his retirement in 1998. He has written ten books on Chinese language, Asian literature and Russian literature.

David Young has been Longman Professor of English at Oberlin College since 1986 and an editor of FIELD magazine since 1969.  He is the author of several collections of poetry, including Field of Light and Shadow (Knopf, 2010); Black Lab (2006); At the White Window (2000); Night Thoughts and Henry Vaughan (1994), which won the Ohio State University Press/The Journal Award in Poetry; The Planet on the Desk: Selected and New Poems 1960-1990 (1991); Foraging (1986); Earthshine (1988); The Names of a Hare in English (1979); Work Lights: Thirty-Two Prose Poems(1977); and Boxcars (1972). His translations include Out on the Autumn River: Selected Poems by Du Mu (2006) and Clouds Float North: The Complete Poems of Yu Xuanji(1998), both with Jiann I. Lin; Selected Poems by Eugenio Montale(2004), with Charles Wright and Jonathan Galassi); The Poetry of Petrarch (2004); The Book of Fresh Beginnings: Selected Poems of Rainer Maria Rilke (1994), Miroslav Holub’s Vanishing Lung Syndrome and The Dimension of the Present Moment (both 1990),Five T’ang Poets (1990), Pablo Neruda‘s The Heights of Macchu Picchu (1987), and Rilke’s Duino Elegies (1980).

Moon As Bright As Water was edited by Richard Kent, Professor of East Asian Art History at Franklin Marshall College. He received his B.A. in English from Oberlin College and his M.A. and Ph.D. in Chinese art and archaeology from Princeton University.

Moon As Bright As Water: 17 Poems by Qin Guan, Deluxe Edition

Calf vellum quarter binding with gray Cave Paper debossed with matte gray and gold foil. Flyleaves of handmade green St. Armand with Brick Hahnemühle Bugra endpapers housed in a brown Kennett bookcloth covered drop spine box foiled in matte gray with a vellum spine title.


Edition Choices



Browsing by John BarthThis essay comes from an address by John Barth at a celebration of the Clifton Miller Library’s (Washington College in Chestertown, Maryland) acquisition of its 200,000th volume. Every year, the Literary House Press publishes one book by a writer of national reputation who has ties to the state of Maryland. Barth was born in Cambridge, Maryland (1930).Prospectus: For any reader who has ever plunged joyously headlong into a book – or a roomful of them, or an entire library – this one will be a special treat. John Barth’s Browsing takes us on a literary ramble through the history of libraries (both real and imagined) and of his own lifelong encounters with books. As we have come to expect from the author of The Sot-Weed Factor and Lost in the Funhouse, this extended essay combines humor, erudition, and an exuberant intellectual energy. En route to a deeper understanding of what he calls ‘the browserish aspect of human consciousness,’ Barth visits such topics as the joys of marginalia and the hazards of reading on the beach; the Library of Pergamum and the Library of Babel; Bakhtin, Borges, and Barthelme, hypertexts and the Pandemonium Model of Utterance. Browsing is a book for true book-lovers, a delight to the mind as well as the eye.”This Literary House Press limited edition of Browsing includes five specially commissioned linoleum cuts by Mary Rhinelander, plus an original portrait of the author as its frontispiece. The bright white mouldmade Hahnemühle paper showcases Rhinelander’s illustrations, which are impressed in black over classic orange and green. The front cover is also embellished with one of the artist’s cuts.Design and printing was done by James Dissette (Chester River Press) for the O’Neil Literary House at Washington College.Signed edition, $300, shipping included.
Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad – Sold Out

Heart of Darkness
By Joseph Conrad 
with drawings by Marc Castelli 
Chestertown, Maryland: Chester River Press, 2009. Edition of 135.
9 x 12 x 1.5″; 112 pages with a four-panel center-fold. 36 line drawings by Marc Castelli. Printed letterpress at Deepwood Press by Chad Pastotnik and James Dissette on Hahnemühle Biblio papers. Handcolored drop caps. Quarter-bound in Blue Nigerian goatskin and Cockerell marbled papers. Title stamped on spine. Slipcased with inset paper title. Signed by the artist.Chester River Press: ” A spontaneous consensus between three people is a rare occasion especially when it comes to three partners in publishing deciding on the ‘next’ publication. Marc Castelli, a prolific maritime artist on the Eastern Shore of Maryland also held the Heart of Darkness in high esteem. His passion for the Conrad text resulted in 36 line drawings powerfully reflecting the narrative’s hallucinatory descent into a hell of human oppression, insanity, and ethical conundrum. Conrad’s masterpiece showed to the world the devolution of values when one nation runs amuck over another – in this case the Belgian Congo – in the name of colonial progress. The currency of Heart of Darkness spurred us on.“Logistically, the creation of the book took on a life of its own. Conceived in Maryland, printed on two presses in Michigan, shortages of Hahnemühle Biblio paper, long waits for the Cockerell paper we needed to compliment the goatskin, crazy days on the Deepwood Press vacuuming cotton fibers every 100 passes or so all made for a journey of its own. Even the despairing Mr. Kurtz would have applauded our trek.”Colophon: “The text of Heart of Darkness has been edited to conform to the 1921 Heinemann edition.”Parenthesis 19, review: “What makes the design of the Chester River Press edition such a successful and superior book is its unpretentiousness and its typographic willingness to facilitate an uninhibited read of Conrad’s visceral, morally ambiguous tale. The spartan yet subtly flexible architecture of the 100 meticulously crafted page-spreads offers a reading experience that is quietly contemplative and sublime yet is still imbued with a high level of gravitas. …“The text blocks provide a structural foundation out of which Mr. Castelli’s sepia-rendered etchings emerge as unflinchingly objective, visually candid portrayals of this tale’s most seminal moments. They interrupt the flow of the narrative just enough to afford the reader crucial opportunities to contemplate the themes that Conrad has woven into this novella.”Heart of Darkness” was awarded first place in the 2010 Carl Herzog Award competition for excellence in book design.
$500. Email to check on availability before trying to purchase. SOLD OUT

Tremolino BroadsideLetterpress broadside 18″ x 28″ of a scene from Joseph Conrad’s novella, Tremolino. 
Illustration by Marc Castelli.
Limited to 100 signed.
$75 plus $8 postage: US only.